The National Park Service (NPS) has approved $227 million to initiate a contract to repair and rehabilitate the 85-year-old Arlington Memorial Bridge.
The Virginia and D.C. congressional delegations, with support of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, advocated for a federal FASTLANE project grant, as well as secured additional appropriations to launch the Memorial Bridge rehabilitation project in January. Construction will begin in the fall of 2018, with the project being completed in 2021, giving the bridge a lifespan of an additional 85 to 100 years.
During construction, at least three lanes of traffic will remain open at all times to allow for continued use of the span. Identifying the remaining required funds allows the NPS to save $35 million in costs by completing the project in one phase rather than two, and will allow the project to be finished 18 months sooner than previously estimated.
“After years of work to secure funding to fix Arlington Memorial Bridge, today’s announcement gives us hope that the bridge will remain safe and serviceable into the 22nd century,” U.S. Rep. Don Beyer said. “Our tour of the bridge and press conference in 2015 crystalized the dire need for this funding. Since then I have worked together with my colleagues in Congress, leaders from Virginia and the District, and two Administrations to secure the money for these structural repairs. This truly is great news, and I thank everyone whose efforts brought us here.”
Beyer hosted a press conference next to Memorial Bridge in 2015 with the regional delegation and members of President Obama’s Cabinet to call attention to the urgent need for funding to repair key surface infrastructure. In 2016 he and his colleagues in Congress supported an application for a grant which successfully secured $90 million to fund the first round of repairs.
The Memorial Bridge, which carries 68,000 vehicles daily between Washington, D.C. and Arlington, Va., was originally opened in 1932 with a 75-year design life. It is now structurally deficient, having never undergone a major rehabilitation. As a result a 10-ton load limit remains in effect, and large vehicles, including trucks and buses, are prohibited from crossing. Without a major overhaul, it has been expected that the bridge would have to be closed to vehicular traffic beginning in 2021.
The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments has previously estimated that closing the Memorial Bridge could cost local governments $75 million per year in transportation outlays alone. Moreover, transit studies suggest that traffic from the bridge would spill over onto other area bridges, particularly the 14th Street Bridge and Roosevelt Bridge.